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Keith McShea


Western New Yorkers will be lining up at a different kind of drive-thru Saturday as Canisius High School collects donations of food for those in need this holiday season.

The public is encouraged to donate non-perishable food items from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6 at the school at 1180 Delaware Ave.

All donations will benefit St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy, which cares for the poor and abandoned in Western New York. Soon after food is donated on Delaware Ave. on Saturday morning, Canisius student and staff volunteers will transport the items to St. Luke’s on Walden Ave.

The following non-perishable items have been requested by St. Luke’s: canned food (including corn), boxed rice, pasta, canned sauce (including cranberry), stuffing, brownie mix, macaroni and cheese, corn muffin mix, peanut butter & jelly and ramen noodles.

Saturday’s event is a continuation of the weeks-long Great Ignatian Challenge food drive, conducted annually by Canisius and other Jesuit High Schools across the Northeast. The Challenge is a friendly – but spirited – competition in which students embody the Jesuit mission of being “Men and Women for Others” as they try to collect as much food as possible for the needy heading into the holidays. 

Last Friday, Canisius students and staff collected hundreds of boxes of food and raised $1,240 – all going to St. Luke’s – during a Halloween costume/Buffalo Bills gear dress-down day.

Canisius collected and distributed nearly 6 tons of food last year, part of a total of 84 tons collected via the Challenge.

“A major part of Jesuit education is fostering an ongoing desire to serve the needs of others,” said Canisius President Fr. David Ciancimino, S.J. “St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, said, ‘love ought to show itself in deeds more than in words.’ Saturday’s event is an opportunity for us to show our care for the community through our actions. We are proud to join our fellow Jesuit institutions in this effort.”

Food can also be donated at Canisius during school days (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.) during the drive, which began Tuesday, Oct. 26 and runs through Friday, Nov. 19.

Last year, Canisius collected nearly 12,000 pounds of food, thanks to students, their families, faculty, staff, alumni, and the greater Buffalo community.

This is the sixth year of the Great Ignatian Challenge, and the second year that Canisius has participated. The contest grew from nine to 15 schools this year. The Challenge is intended to raise students’ awareness of hunger and inspire them to act by working to fill their local food banks and pantries with tens of thousands of pounds of much-needed provisions.

Last year, participating schools collected and distributed over 168,000 pounds of food.

Since the initiative began in 2016, the Great Ignatian Challenge has collected 302 tons of food and distributed it across local food banks, community centers and aid organizations.

The Great Ignatian Challenge is the creation of Jim Rowen, an alumnus of Fordham Prep. Inspired by the Jesuit mission of becoming “Men and Women for Others,” the Challenge highlights the collective service power and generosity among Jesuit high schools during their Thanksgiving food drives. In support of the students’ efforts, Rowen has given more than $1 million towards scholarship funds for students at these institutions. The size of the contribution each school earns depends on the amount of food it collects in the Challenge.

The participating Jesuit high schools are:

Boston College High School (Boston, MA)
Cheverus High School (Portland, ME)
Canisius High School (Buffalo, NY)
Fairfield Prep (Fairfield, CT)
Fordham Preparatory School (Bronx, NY)
Georgetown Prep (North Bethesda, MD)
Gonzaga College High School (Washington, DC)
Loyola Blakefield (Towson, MD)
Loyola School (Manhattan, NY)
McQuaid Jesuit High School (Rochester, NY)
Regis High School (Manhattan, NY)
Saint Joseph’s Preparatory School (Philadelphia, PA)
Saint Peter’s Prep (Jersey City, NJ)
Scranton Prep (Scranton, PA)
Xavier High School (Manhattan, NY)

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